Great Horror Video Games
It’s become increasingly clear in the past decade or so that horror themes in entertainment reach wide audiences. Year after year, new horror films reach the cinema with mediocre (and often horrible) reviews, yet they continually dominate the box office and bring in tens of millions of dollars at a time. And recently, we’ve seen this trend extend into the video game industry. Mind you, horror games have always had their place in the industry. But as gaming expands—online and on mobile devices and advanced consoles—scary games are more prominent than ever. So here are a few of the best examples out there on various systems.
The Evil Within
At this point it would almost seem inappropriate to start the list with any other game. The Evil Within was released this past October for Xbox and Playstation devices (as well as Windows) and, partially through a heavy ad campaign, caused a sensation. In this game, players control Detective Sebastian Castellanos as he is plunged from the investigation of a creepy mass murder into a sort of terrifying alternate reality where he must contend with a god-like (and malicious) being. It’s a terrifying, hauntingly realistic game that has gotten a lot of Resident Evil comparisons (that’s a very good thing to most gamers), and IGN‘s reviewer stated that the game “produced some of the most incredible moments” he’d experienced in any video game in years.
An app from acclaimed indie developer Simogo, Year Walk can best be described as bizarre. Based loosely on an old Swedish tradition involving a sort of meditative and spiritual midnight walk, the game sets you loose on a first-person discovery narrative as you travel through a creepy forest looking for clues to help you advance. There is a plot, but it feels like a background element, and the real delight of Year Walk is the feel of it all—the spooky sounds, casually terrifying visuals, and the sense that something more frightening is just a swipe away.
Vampires vs. Werewovles
Horror gaming has also made it into online markets, specifically the casino gaming genre. Vampires vs. Werewolves is one of the primary examples, as it’s managed to take classic horror characters and themes and use them to provide atmosphere for an online slot game. Intercasino teases that “Vampires vs. Werewovles is a serious game for serious fans of horror stories,” which is a fairly bold claim for an online arcade game. However, the action ultimately lives up to the claim. It’s not as scary or action-packed as some of the other games listed here, but it’s pretty effective in bringing horror to a new genre of gaming.
In description, The Woods, which is another mobile app game, sounds somewhat similar to Year Walk. However, while Year Walk offers up a nightmarish fable of sorts, The Woods is more of a traditional horror setup. Your job is to explore an open-world forest in search of pages from a book, all the while avoiding and fending off the demons that lurk unseen all around you. In a list of creepy games available for iPhones, Hub Pages made an interesting comparison of the setting to The Blair Witch Project, which isn’t a bad way to think about it.
If The Evil Within is the most recent major horror game for popular consoles, Dead Space may be the best. Basically, the game transports you to deep space where your mission on a seemingly abandoned ship turns into a non-stop battle for survival against all manner of horrifying creatures. The game was great because it scared in various ways, offering sudden jumps, tense battles, and an unnerving atmosphere. There have been sequels (including Dead Space 3, which was released to solid reviews in 2013), but the 2008 original could very well be the best horror game out there.